Factsheet #30

Regulations for sharing roles between levels of government

Instrument Type


Governance Level


Governance Mode


Water management topics addressed

Drought & water scarcity
Water abstraction for irrigation and other economic activities
Water quality issues due to nutrient pollution
Water quality issues: Other reasons

Implementation requirements

Financial capacity


Human capacity


Political buy-in


Timeframe for implementation


#30: Regulations for sharing roles between levels of government


Legal mechanisms are commonly used for promoting multi-level relations in water policy. Legislation can be used to help establish frameworks or parameters that build sub-national capacity by allocating competences and resources. This can be accomplished at the central (national) level as well as at the regional level in federal countries.


If it helps to define roles and responsibilities clearly, legislation can overcome problems of duplication and overlap. Assigning tasks, rather than allocating funding, can be a better way of managing problems of resource allocation. It also provides sub-national authorities with an opportunity for “learning by doing”, which can increase their overall capacity in the medium and long term.

Example: Multilevel governance arrangements in Germany, Italy, Spain and Canada

In policy areas where multiple stakeholders and issues interact, such as the water domain, interdependencies and complexity are often managed through multilevel . A common practice to many countries organized through federal (or similar) models of power distribution is to sign broad contractual arrangements between different levels in order to share roles and rights in the management of policies. Example of these arrangements are seen in Germany (“Joint tasks”), in Italy (“Accordi”), in Canada (“Arrangements”) and in Spain (“Convenios”). The usefulness of these tools lies in the fact that they facilitate the development of inter-level dialogue, lesson learning and impact evaluation.


OECD (2011). Water governance in OECD countries – A multilevel approach. OECD Studies on water (p. 82ff) https://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/environment/water-governance-in-oecd-countries_9789264119284-en Retrieved on 22 September 2020.

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